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November 12, 2010

david brooks is cuckoo for cocoa puffs

You probably don't read David Brooks, and why should you?  But today's installment is his most sci-fi yet:

Following the Obama groundswell and the Tea Party groudswell, there will be a third groundswell (or wave, even) — an army of David Brookses, using their twin superpowers of moderation and patriotism to give a newly unified country the stones to tighten those belts so that the ultrarich can have all the unmarked, consecutive bills they want.  Yes, this army will be entirely comprised of paupers fresh out of debt prison, but they will have the love of country to keep them warm at night.  And they will be moderate, which automatically makes their wry half-smiles their umbrellas.  And they will wear sensible footwear and have patrician foreheads.  Did I mention the moderate part?

It is truly David Brooks' world, and we all just live in it.  Or more accurately, look at it in the night sky as it waxes and wanes.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:02 AM

red state infrastructure

Just as a little brain exercise, try to imagine a country in which the Interstates, those very important bits of infrastructure that not only enable the cheap transportation of goods on a national basis but also enable you to visit Aunt Mabel without spending half a day on seventy miles of two-lane roads, only function in certain states.  Like say you're cross-country touring, from west to east, and you start in California — booming megahighways, manicured and maintained.  Then you cross into Nevada and you are driving century-old cobblestone for one thousand miles.  Iowa is a little better — newer cobblestone — and you rejoin the macadem in Illinois.  By the time you near the Eastern Seaboard, you're back to the four to six lane arterial highways that you left in California.

It's just a brain exercise, so it's supposed to sound preposterous.  But it's actually not outside the realm of possibility, on a going forward basis.  Or at least, had the so-called "fiscal conservatives" existed fifty years ago, that's what we'd look like now.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:28 AM

November 11, 2010

david sirota is angry

I'm a little shocked to see David Sirota open up with both barrels on hand-wringing Democrats wagging fingers at the "professional left", but at the same time, I'm all thumbs up on it.  As a long time radio listener (like, Rachel Maddow back before she became a TV star), Sirota was a familiar presence and a very calm and well-spoken gentlemen.  So this representative passage sent invisible exclamation points shooting out of my head:
In the past, I may have contributed to some sort of organized pushback.  But not this year.  No, this time I can muster only one Cheney-esque response to the whole grotesque kabuki theater surrounding the inane "Future of the Democratic Party" debate: Go fuck yourself.

Evan Bayh and Third Way and The Democratic Strategist and the DLC and all the professional pundits and cable-TV zombies and D.C. spokesholes - all of you soul-raping corpses and shit-eating poindexters paid to appear on my television screen and scream at me about liberals ruining everything, please, I beg you on behalf of the silent irritated majority: Just go fuck yourself.

Sure, you can just dismiss this as one more angry voice in a universe comprised entirely of angry voices, but don't let the potty-mouth distract you: Sirota's rage is grounded in the belief that public servants are responsible for more than reelection.  As in, "What to do about all the un- and under-employed?" and not, "If we don't cut corporate taxes we are going to have a serious fundraising boondoggle."

I'll take it and the shrill, and the over.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:01 AM

jokes are funny

This, the official response, is all you really need to know about the NYT's groundbreaking (?) effort to explain a joke and why it works:
“Let me get this straight: You want to interview the vice president about stories about him in The Onion?” [Veep spokesman Jay] Carney asked, sounding at once amused and dumbfounded by the request.  “Well, I’ll give you credit for trying.”

Dog bites man?  People laugh at funny things?  I question the wisdom of assigning/publishing that story.

Though I hear that there is this medium that incorporates sounds synchronized with images and is then broadcast to millions and millions of people.  Hopefully the NYT will blow the lid off it.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:56 AM

November 10, 2010

we approach the 'michele who?' horizon

Briefly, and this is so way inside politics that I might be the only person outside of Minnesota to care, but the record must show that ho matter how crazy the eyes of Michele Bachmann are, ultimately?  She's what we call a coward.

It's odd, because part of her charm is never to aspire to anything but Favored Fox News Guest, and so to put it on the line, whether it's, "I'm gonna be Republican Conference Chairman," or, "I'm gonna climb to the moon on a stepladder made of pure righteousness," is out of character.

I just hope this loss of face won't make her any less crazy.  I'm fond of that crazy, in a dystopian sense.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:10 PM

"the moral superiority of the financially successful"

Alex Pareene's takedown of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (in light of his befuddling decision to let his schools chancellor go to publishing and vice versa?) is a total keeper and I am going to buy the dead tree version and cut out all the good parts and decoupage them on the wall next to my desk.  Parts like this:
When a regular politician hires a completely unqualified friend for a government job it's called cronyism. When Michael Bloomberg, hero of the moderate pundit class, does it, it's bringing "management sensibility" to government.

And this!

Only the sort of lucky billionaire convinced of the moral superiority of the financially successful would assume that a random executive with no education experience could manage the New York city public schools better than someone who... you know, has experience managing public schools.

Yes, Pareene's piece is nearly 85% comprised of Good Ones.  And I whole-heartedly agree that corporate governance and actual public service have not a whit to do with each other — public service has very much to do with the public good, and corporate governance wouldn't know the public good with a dictionary and a day's head start.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:22 PM

good morning 11.10.10

Reentry post-trip away.  Catching up on the news &mdash: did Mitch McConnell get elected president?  'Cause he's on top of the Empire State Building right now with a blonde in one hand and a pretend gavel in the other.  If that dude only had a chin he might be the scariest Senate minority leader ever.  But I could be totally mistaken!  I've been away from the phone, in a place in which newspapers are what's used to check on the early-bird specials.  I just spent a bunch of days in Florida, you see, in places which are not cities (in some cases, not even towns!), so my mind is a little bit blown.

But I do look forward to pithy comment about something or other, once I stop thinking about crab shacks.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:20 AM